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Oh what a Summit!

If you were not able to make the 2010 TWI Summit at the Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas – we missed you! 

It was another great group of practitioners and leaders spending time focusing on TWI. The sessions were once again helpful and practical to the experienced and novice alike. The “J” classes following the Summit were well attended. There were two JI classes and one each in JR, JM and JS.

I want to send out a special thanks to the trainers who spent the additional three days away from home to deliver the classes.  I contacted every participant and they unanimously gave high marks to their instructors.  I am working with a number of them now on follow up and deployment in their companies. Our kudos on a job well done go out to  Richard Abercrombie, Mike Braml, Terry Cox, Richard Jackson, and Paul Johnson.

 One feature of the Summit, we especially look forward to each year, is the certified trainers meeting. It was held pre-Summit on Monday. We went over the nuts and bolts issues from the past year and the year to come.  This year we had over 25 at the meeting.   Lynne and Steve talked about the happenings at the Institute including improvements to the manuals, seminars and webinars, etc.

Plans for next year include more seminars and webinars and more improvements to the manuals. One of which is the inclusion of the five needs model in all manuals. 

Bob and Pat discussed the upcoming release of their new book. The book traces the progress of exemplary companies on the implementation of TWI in their operations.  It picks up where the first book left off.

The conversation then turned to TWI in Healthcare.   Bob said TWI in Healthcare is badly needed as a key part of their efforts to bring in Lean.  We are planning a webinar for MEPs and consultants on strategies to break into healthcare with the TWI message.     

Of course Problem Solving was on everyone’s mind.  Pat discussed the state of the program following the great excitement of last year’s sessions with Mr. Shibuya (Pat’s Sensei).  In the coming year we hope to expand the implementation of TWI PS to companies ready for it.

The next portion of the meeting was spent discussing how to avoid many common mistakes in TWI training.  For an outline of what was discussed just send me an email. ( )

Finally, we spoke about the importance of coaching. Following the ten hour class there is a period of practice that can make or break the implementation of TWI in a company. Coaching soon after the class is the best way to avoid a fall back into the old habits. We need to stress the importance of this after every class.   Recently, following a Train the Trainer in a large company, Richard went back and spent a whole week coaching breakdowns, observing different situations and offering advice and coaching. It’s a “Learn by doing” process. Someone once said: “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.”   Doing something incorrectly over and over doesn’t make you better at that skill.  

Following our Certified Trainers meeting on Monday, came two days of solid presentations including: outstanding keynotes and a mix of mature TWI implementation stories and start up experiences; something for everyone. We are already looking forward to next year in Orlando!

The busy folks at the TWI Institute

Here’s the latest from your TWI Institute. We’ve been busy so let me give you a quick overview:

  • When they’re not working with all of you, Bob Wrona and Patrick Graupp have been working hard writing their second book.  Look for it this summer or fall.  In this book they pick up the thread from the TWI Workbook and fast forward four years. What has happened to the companies that have implemented TWI correctly?  What has changed in TWI and what hasn’t?  
  • The TWI Summit is coming up in a few short weeks and preparations are almost complete. We have been working closely with Dwayne Butcher and Jim Huntzinger to make this simply the best TWI Summit ever!   In addition to an excellent venue (Green Valley Ranch – Las Vegas,  Nevada)  the program is going to be outstanding.  On our end Bob and Pat will offer their popular preconference session – TWI  101.  It is the best overview you can get.  During the conference the excellent breakout sessions will include many of the stars from TWI Institute’s cadre of trainers and leaders including:  Richard Abercrombie,   Patrick Graupp, Scott Curtis, Alan Gross, Robert Dumke, Martha Purrier, Sam Wagner, and Mike Braml.  Of course, all the sessions are being presented by stars in their own right.  On the Monday preceding the conference we will have our TWI Institute Certified Trainers meeting from 1 to 4 PM. This is free to certified trainers and invited guests. We are putting together an informative and interactive three hours you will not want to miss.   An agenda will be coming out soon.
  • As always, we have been talking, talking, talking to companies large and small about how to solve their production problems, large and small, through effective TWI program implementation.    We are finding our conversations are branching out into plants in Europe, Mexico, and Canada as well as our many U.S. companies. No one  in the world, it seems, is immune to production problems that result from inadequate training.   

Steve Grossman, Director

Reflections on a year well spent

In just a few days we take a brief break for the holidays.  As I reflect on this past year (my first with TWI)  I can’t help but marvel at how much I’ve learned and how much we’ve accomplished.  I feel very fortunate to be working with  people who have a depth of  expertise with, and dedication to, TWI.  I’ve certainly learned the most from Bob Wrona and Patrick Graupp; the deans of  TWI.  They are working on their second book.  Their first was the TWI Workbook, it documented the whys and hows of TWI implementation.  The upcoming book will chronicle what has happened since the first book was published in 2006 in terms of the successes and lessons learned by companies implementing TWI programs. 

In the past year I’ve been privileged to watch our master trainers at work.   In 2009, the  TWI master trainers,  Patrick Graupp, Richard Abercrombie, Roger Bilas,  Mike Braml, and Dave Palazzoli have  brought 61 new practitioners  into the ranks of  TWI certified trainers.  Two thirds of the TWI Institute certified trainers are certified in  more than one program.  So, the 61 new trainers  accounted for a fraction  of the  150 seats filled in 27  train the trainer classes. The remaining 89 were in their second , third or fourth train the trainer class.  This is a track record made even more amazing by the  fact that in 2009 our master trainers and an outstanding cadre of certified trainers  including: Terry Cox, Richard Jackson, and Paul Johnson, have trained another 468 trainees in 49 J classes.  Many of  these trainees find their way into the ranks of certified trainers in fairly short order.  Finally, we can’t even count the number of trainees in the classes held in  2009 by our 313 certified trainers throughout the world.  

But the best part of the job, by far, has been meeting the great people in the many companies across the country where the TWI programs are being implemented.  Time after time I got to see and hear the success stories of companies weathering the economic storms and even prospering, in large part, because they are faithfully implementing the principles of TWI.   What a difference TWI training  has made in the lives of the people in these  companies! 

I also want to thank Lynne Harding, our Program Administrator, for making this first year such an easy transition; we would be lost without her.  

All the best to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year! 

 Steven Grossman – Director

A great webinar – food for thought

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. We are  starting to think about all the wonderful food that will be on the table.  The TWI Problem  Solving (PS) webinar on Tuesday (November 17th) was a feast of another kind;  food for thought.  Many of the webinar participants have  maturing TWI programs in their organizations.  They are looking for a way to bring their people  to the next level – is TWI Problem Solving what they’ve been hungry for? 

Patrick Graupp did a terrific job of bringing everyone along on a very brief explanation of a complex program.  He explained that  TWI PS is designed to make every supervisor a problem solver.  He pointed out that unlike other problem solving systems, TWI PS  not only provides the techniques for identifying and categorizing the causes of problems,  it provides  specific techniques for solving them.  And, if you have one or more TWI Job programs ongoing, you can leverage that investment into a powerful engine for continuous improvement.   

He made me hungry for more; how about you?  Did you miss the webinar?  No worries, call or email me, at the TWI Institute and we’ll feed you all the information you need.  In the meantime, have a happy, problem free, Thanksgiving.

Steve Grossman,  Director

Integrating TWI into Large Training Programs

I’ve been working with a colleague who wants to integrate Job Instruction into a large, funded training program. He and I discussed for sometime the appropriate placement of TWI as a core competency among the myriad of competencies necessary for the employee to do the job properly. We realized after some frustration that Job Instruction, as well as the other TWI J programs, are not about job skills, but, about supervisory skills. We needed to go back to the TWI model and review the five needs of supervisors: Knowledge of Work, Knowledge of Responsibilities, Skills in Leading, Skills in Instructing, and Skills in Improving Methods.  In this case, he needed to carve out a place for skills in instructing (JI) in two places. First a JI supervisory skills training class for field supervisors and second, a JI trainer skills program for their trainers. Both groups needed to be trained in TWI JI methodology to learn the skills for instructing hands-on tasks.   

One major barrier seems to be how to integrate TWI into large training programs where the training skills of the trainers and supervisors have traditionally taken a back seat to their technical knowledge and skills.  Training programs seem to assume that technically competent supervisors and trainers know how to instruct others.  Our experience says that’s not the case.  The effort, then, is to get the decision makers in these programs to understand the improvements possible if their trainers add TWI to their repertoire.  I will keep you posted on the progress we make in this pilot program.    

Finally, as a former career and technical education educator, this discussion made me think about how powerful a tool TWI JI could be in the technical classroom where the teacher is responsible to teach students to do jobs correctly, safely and conscientiously.  But that’s for another day.

I’d be interested to see your ideas about this topic, leave me a comment.  

Steve Grossman, Director

Our visit to AME 2009: The Journey to Greatness

The TWI Institute staff, Bob, Lynne and Steve just returned from the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) conference in Covington Kentucky. (October 19-23)  It was a great conference run by people truly dedicated to improving manufacturing.  We enjoyed seeing our old friends as well as meeting many new acquaintances from around the world. 

The theme for 2009 was “Journey to Greatness” and the keynote speakers all spoke to the theme with one common thread, your journey to greatness is made with the people you bring along.  Without building great people, no company can achieve greatness.   “Building great people” involves more than charismatic leadership.  Inherent in that leadership is building great people through great training.  This point was reinforced by Kiyoshi Furuta, Chairman/CEO of Toyota Boshoku America.  In his presentation he spoke about the Toyota Production System (TPS) and emphasized the critical importance of a great training system, specifically Job Instruction Training (JI). 

The power of JI training was further explored by Esco Corporation in their presentation “TWI – Journey to Successful Implementation”.  My take away from that session was: There are no short cuts to building a great workforce. They made the investment in time, energy and money to successfully implement all the pieces of a JI program. The results have been impressive: standard work; job instructions; training timetables; cross training; etc.  The immediate returns were less retraining, reduced process variation, and fewer defects.  These immediate returns will clearly lead to greater capacity and profits down the road.   Congratulations to Esco.  

Following their presentation many production managers came to the TWI Institute booth and said, “Wow, do we need JI in our company. What’s the secret?”  The secret is – there is no secret.  The steps are clear. First, learn about TWI and then formulate a plan to get management support to dedicate the time, energy and money needed for successful implementation.  You may have noted money is the last item on the list of the needed resources.    That is because the outlay of dollars for TWI training is relatively small, however, the time and energy that must be committed is substantial. 

Bob and I attended the TWI Special Interest Session where that point was made and remade. Their   benchmarking confirmed that there is a path that must be taken for successful implementation and it has no short cuts.  Having said that, in every case, they reported the rewards have also been substantial.  

 If you want to start or have started on a TWI implementation journey and you need help moving it forward, call or email, we can help.    

Finally, our thanks to the great people at AME for a terrific conference experience.

Steve Grossman, Director

Another Successful Webinar

Many thanks to those of you attended the TWI: The Link to Lean in Healthcare webinar yesterday (10/13/2009).  We heard from Paul Johnson from the  Purdue Technical Assistance Program.  Paul is   a TWI trainer who has experienced the delivery of TWI training in Healthcare and Healthcare related manufacturing, testing and packaging industries.  He stressed the need for top level support and ground level follow-through for a successful adoption in any setting.    The next presenter was Joan Ching from Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle,  who described how Lean, 5S and TWI – JI work hand and glove to attack perennial healthcare delivery problems like infection control and patient injury from  falls.  

Two excellent contributors. Thankyou  both.

The next webinar “TWI Problem Solving”  is scheduled for November 17th , 1:00 to 2:00 PM ET.  Go to    for registration information.     

Steve Grossman Director, TWI Institute

TWI Needs Assessment and Planning


We are proposing a series of symposia or classes for people who are responsible for results in their organization and have some familiarity with TWI,  but no idea how to get started.  

They will be at selected MEP centers around the country .   

Participants will learn:

  • What TWI is (and is not)
  • How to plan and implement a TWI program by carrying out a TWI needs assessment and preparing a TWI proposal for their company 
  • How to avoid the common pitfalls on the TWI journey
  • How TWI fits seamlessly into Lean and Six Sigma Initiatives
  • How to find additional information and assistance with TWI with a customized list of resources and contact information

 Look for announcements in the Spring. 

In the meantime let me know if you would be interested in attending or hosting such an event by leaving a comment on this blog.

Steve Grossman – Director, TWI Institute

The Importance of Coaching In a Dynamic TWI Implementation

The goal of the TWI J programs is to improve the business outcomes for organizations through training. The training is most often focused on supervisors[1]. TWI training is designed to provide supervisors with the skills to be effective leaders, effective instructors and effective innovators. As good as it is, such training takes employees away from the work place and draws on scarce resources.  So how do you insure your training investment pays a dividend?  You do so by planning follow-up and coaching at the start. The TWI J class should be viewed as only the first step in a successful TWI implementation. We have learned by experience that training in isolation will not have sustained effects.  

 Coaching, as we will use it here, is defined as a job-focused, performance oriented relationship with a co-worker for the purpose of improving knowledge, and skills to better perform a given task.[2] We use coaching to improve the practice of TWI (JI, JR, or JM) after the classes are completed.

 The matter of coaching in TWI is, indeed, not new.  It was discussed in some detail in the TWI Service booklet titled “Following through with J.I.T.” (circa 1940). The booklet begins with the statement: “The 10 hours of J.I.T. has put valuable tools in supervisors’ hands. The tools must be used to produce results. Here is a practical way to put them to work.”  The TWI Service authors then provided an organizational chart naming the key positions that needed to be engaged in the coaching and how to go about it. They called it: “How To Get A Section Chief to Coach His Unit Chiefs.”  What follows is essentially that that process updated for context.

 The process of implementing a sustainable J program in the workplace (shop floor, office, patient care setting) can be broken down into four steps. The first step in is to gain corporate support for the program. This support needs to be clearly communicated at every level. The second step is to prepare local managers and supervisors to provide the support, time and resources the supervisors need to fully implement the program. It needs to be made clear that the long term gains will outweigh the immediate costs to production. The third step is to instruct the lead TWI trainer in how to coach supervisors and others down the line.  The TWI trainer(s) need to be given the skills, time and authority to coach the supervisors in how to use the TWI system as well as coaching them while they are doing it. Finally, the fourth step is to keep the TWI program dynamic through continuous coaching, auditing, process improvement (JM) and renewal.      

An example from the workplace might help illustrate how these four steps were carried out in a medium sized company with manufacturing plants spread across the country. The corporate goal was to turn out the highest quality product possible, as quickly as possible, with zero defects, all at a reasonable cost.  A corporate commitment was made to achieve that goal by providing the employees with the best job instruction training available. 

Step 1: Gain corporate support

TWI JI training was identified as a means to achieve that goal. A corporate commitment was made to make the journey with TWI and a location was selected.  Key human resource and production employees were trained in JI.  Job Instruction Breakdowns (JIBs) were developed for the selected product lines, work processes were stabilized, training schedules were developed and adhered to, and training was provided and audited. Following some experience and success, an individual with clear training aptitude and interest was sent to take the JI Train the Trainer class.  When she returned she was provided resources to train managers, supervisors, and team leaders at additional plants and follow-up with coaching. All of this was possible because the leadership communicated their commitment to this training and provided resources in support of it.   

Step 2:  Prepare local managers and supervisors

Over time a cadre of trainers was trained by the certified, corporate TWI trainer in a variety of locations. While responsible for the overall training, this individual could not be in more than one place at a time, so local management support was enlisted and selected individual supervisors and/or engineers in each location were provided the resources of time, coaching and the authority to implement JI training and auditing.    

Step 3: Instruct the lead TWI trainer in how to coach supervisors and others

One might make the case that steps 2 and 3 must be completed concurrently and that would be correct. The lead trainer was identified and following the completion of TWI JITT, she was charged with coaching TWI supervisors and others on a regular basis. As a result the supervisors grew in their role as the TWI leader which became an ongoing part of their jobs.  In this company, the lead supervisors oversaw or provided the TWI training and then maintained the training needs chart and schedule, coordinated the training, audited the training; and verified the completeness and accuracy of the JIBs. 

Step 4: Keep the TWI program dynamic

Training and implementation in the company were going well but the danger of complacency is always there. The lead trainer was given the authority and responsibility to collect relevant metrics to document: standard work; reduced training time; efficiency gains; reduced error rates; reduced reworks; reduced defects; increased productivity; reduced overtime; increased profitability; improved employee retention; and improved customer satisfaction. While all this was being measured, new employees were still being trained, incumbents were cross trained and trained in new processes, and most importantly coaching continued for everyone.  There is involvement at every level with continuous assessment and adjustment.  Everyone has a role to play and success is dependent on their participation. 

If you are not sure how to instruct the lead trainer in how to coach the supervisors and others, call us, we can set up group or indidvidual coaching training.           

 Steve Grossman, Director

[1] Supervisor is a generic term for, “Anyone who directs the work of other’s”.


How do you select particpants for J training?

Bill and Loren in Arkansas (MEP) asked  how do we best advise our clients with regard to their selection of participants for JI and JR classes so that they will achieve maximum benefit/results? 

They said: “We understand that it is best to have supervisors from the same level participate in a given JR session (i.e., a homogeneous horizontal selection throughout the company) so as to avoid impeding any learning/interactions that might occur in the event that their “bosses or subordinates” were in the room.  Presumably in that situation, there would be a hesitancy to openly/freely discuss their problems within the context of the JR process.  With regard to JI sessions, we understand that the selection process could include participants other than just supervisors (e.g., a cross functional vertical selection throughout a particular Value Stream).  In this case, the participants would be selected based on their ability to utilize the JI process to become capable instructors.  Since the training examples used during the JI sessions would not necessarily be sensitive in nature (as could be the case with the problems addressed during the JR sessions), the candidates could come from upper management, supervisors, maintenance, engineering, quality, etc.  It also has occurred to us that the company should take time to consider what they mean by a “good” trainer and, where possible, establish the criteria by which candidates would be selected (e.g., flexible, creative, knowledgeable, respectful, practical, empathetic, patient, approachable, appropriate humor, etc.).”

 And I said:  “From my reading, I see  a recurring theme which  is;  top down support is necessary  for successful implementation. Whether they take the training, observe the training or gain an understanding through informal means,  the  plant manager, the owner or the CEO must let the employees know this is the way we are going to proceed.  Then, as you suggest, care should be taken in selecting the inaugural group for training based on the problems identified. I would recommend that  the groups selected for training be bonded by a project  or  two to be accomplished  rather than a random cross section of supervisory and management personnel.   Otherwise, I think you have as good a handle on the subject as anyone I’ve talked to. ”

What do you say?

Steve Grossman – Director

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